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[MCSE-003] What is an agent? Discuss briefly different (at least four) types of agents.

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What are Agent?

An agent is anything that can perceive its environment through sensors and acts upon that environment through effectors.
  • human agent has sensory organs such as eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin parallel to the sensors, and other organs such as hands, legs, mouth, for effectors.
  • robotic agent replaces cameras and infrared range finders for the sensors, and various motors and actuators for effectors.
  • software agent has encoded bit strings as its programs and actions.


The Types of Intelligent Agents

Agent’s structure can be viewed as −
  • Agent = Architecture + Agent Program
  • Architecture = the machinery that an agent executes on.
  • Agent Program = an implementation of an agent function.

1. Simple Reflex Agents

  • They choose actions only based on the current percept.
  • They are rational only if a correct decision is made only on the basis of current precept.
  • Their environment is completely observable.
Condition-Action Rule − It is a rule that maps a state (condition) to an action.

2. Model Based Reflex Agents

They use a model of the world to choose their actions. They maintain an internal state.
Model − The knowledge about “how the things happen in the world”.
Internal State − It is a representation of unobserved aspects of current state depending on percept history.
Updating the state requires the information about −
  • How the world evolves.
  • How the agent’s actions affect the world.

3. Goal Based Agents

They choose their actions in order to achieve goals. Goal-based approach is more flexible than reflex agent since the knowledge supporting a decision is explicitly modeled, thereby allowing for modifications.
Goal − It is the description of desirable situations.

4. Utility Based Agents

They choose actions based on a preference (utility) for each state. Goals are inadequate when −
  • There are conflicting goals, out of which only few can be achieved.
  • Goals have some uncertainty of being achieved and you need to weigh likelihood of success against the importance of a goal.


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